It seems slightly obvious to say something about how important the concept of “community” is at a school. School, ideally, is a series of various interacting communities: parent, teacher, class, campus. Nothing groundbreaking here. But, see, we’re not talking just school, we’re talking Waverly. And as you might have experienced in your time here, we’re a little…different. I can’t even say why, exactly. It’s just there, that feeling.
OK, backtrack. I’m a yoga teacher, a meditation teacher, a tiny entrepreneur whose work is nothing if not based on gathering, individuals coming together to create a collective. The Sanskrit word sangha is resonant for me, if that doesn’t make me sound too hippie 3.0. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk and activist, defines sangha as a “beloved community.”
Beloved. That’s the kicker. We can have communities all we want, but beloved? Boom.
Part of my job, which in the classic Waverly Way defies any sort of definition, is coming to the elementary school at what feels like the crack of dawn to hang out with the early students. I tend to perch atop the dome on the playground for vantage point reasons, and I get to see all kinds of morning feels: children bursting through the gate with uncontained energy, or droopy and sleepy-bodied, or already deep into a book, or gripping an adult hand, a little vulnerable. Always I see eyes, widening, searching, reaching out for someone or something familiar.
Waverly is a small shop. Familiar is readily available to anyone at any time. Heidi, famously, knows the name of each and every student (or…seems to. In my sixteen years here I have never once witnessed anything different). I can be in the bathroom stall and hear “HI MEG!” because everyone knows my shoes. The same kids climb up the dome to sit with me in the morning and we have our own special language. Eyes meet. Greetings exchanged. Hands held. Jokes told. Games played. Buckets filled.
The thing about the morning is the new thing. The start of something. Fresh take. Infinite opportunity. Inhale exhale. Wide open heart. Children looking at, seeking out others in their friend group, class, community, for those few moments of undefined, beloved togetherness. We know each other. We talk and we listen. We might stay quiet. We keep each other safe. From my perch, my own morning start gaze, that tiny time before the bell rings, that vital time, the rise of the day’s sangha, is the thing. The Waverly thing.
Assistant to the Head of School and other stuff